20170621 Summer Solstice Ambush, Painted Lady, Monarch, Thalictrum, Water Lilies, Sweat bee, Crab Spider

We were out on Old Still River Road and Hwy 529 down to Big Lake on our National Aboriginal Day on the Summer Solstice.  Here are some sights seen along the way.

 

A well worn Painted Lady visits a naturalized Red Clover blossom for some nectar…

The Meadow Rues are bursting into bloom now…

This Sweat Bee is gathering pollen on  Common Yarrow, which have just started blooming.

Beware this crab spider poised to ambush a “customer” with its poised front claws.

Another one, poised to strike:

Up closer.   Click on the photo so see its eyes clearly.

It has retracted its front claws, perhaps to move.   Or maybe to make picture-making a little easier for the photographer.

As we passed the pond at Big Lake…

We saw more critters feeding on Yarrow nectar …

Monarch and Sweat Bee sharing a blossom …..

Alas! for this Sweat BeeAt last! says this crab spider!

If you click on the photo you can see one of the spider’s eyes as it sucks the vital juices out of the bee’s “neck”.

On the way home, the setting sun illuminated this nice triplet of Yellow Pond Lily blooms …

One of my internet acquaintances says, “the connection one gets from trying to understand the subtleties of nature is truly the best.

PS   The shelf fungus at the top of this post appears to be Dryad’s Saddle.  It is always wise to positively ID a mushroom from several sources before tasting it.

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20170620 Jamot Rd Monarch, White Admiral, Harris’s Checkerspot, Painted Lady, Tufted Loosestrife, Sheep Laurel, Ruffed Grouse

I don’t use a compost pile anymore as I have had bear problems.  So nowadays I return kitchen vegetable and animal waste back to “the bush” — a natural recycle.  After that and a doggie walk, we spent an enjoyable afternoon idling along Jamot Lumber Road.    This is some of what we saw:

The Monarchs are feeding on orange hawkweeds and laying eggs at the bases of common milkweed leaves.

Are these little flies feeding on something?

A yellow tufted loosestrife growing from the top of an altered beaver dam.

This is an amazing shot when you look closely!   Click on it to see what the White Admiral has in the coil of its proboscis.

 

Here is a closeup from a photo taken 10 seconds after the above one.

Is it eating a grain of sand?  Hint:  See the last item on this list of Butterfly Garden Necessities.

Two good ID photos of the White Admiral:

I think that this is a Harris’s Checkerspot, Closyne harrisii.

Green bug on ox eye daisy …

This ruffed grouse was having a bath in the dust along the side of the road.  Maybe it is molting.

Common cinquefoil …

This Sheep Laurel is blooming much later than the ones along Shebeshekong road.

Two Chalk fronted corporals … who, “readily approach humans to feed on the mosquitoes and biting flies that humans attract.”

Female above

Male below…

Pretty green bug on petals of blackberry flowers …

Back in Britt, the lilies in Diana’s flower garden are starting to bloom, to be resplendent on Canada Day.

And a Painted Lady on her  (Diana’s) walkway…

This is a real feast:  http://www.randysnaturephotography.com/butterfly_and_insect_index.htm

And it is a great reference for identifying most of the little critters we see in the air, foraging on flowers, holding on to perches and laying eggs all around us.

 

Worth looking at:  https://www.chelseagreen.com/blogs/oxeye-daisy/

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20170618-20 Sandhill Cranes, Ring Billed Gulls, Brewers Blackbird, Mallard Duck, Killdeer, Ruby throated Hummingbird

My friend Dave twice phoned to tell me of Sandhills visiting his place.   This pair was seen Sunday afternoon.   They were very calm and I was able to approach to within 10 m in the car.   Click on the photos to see the details of these interesting birds.

That stern look always reminds me of John Diefenbaker!

They were stabbing their beaks about an inch in to the soil to extract grubs that were pushed up by recent rainfalls.

There were some puddles around for this bird to wade in.

Up close and personal as they walked along the mowed roadway to Dave and Irene’s house.

This quartet was seen early Tuesday (7:17) morning in front of the skeleton of Dave’s Barn….

Ring-bills seem to hang out with Sandhills.  I don’t know why.

While the Sandhills were feasting on grubs, this Brewers Blackbird

caught a dragonfly resting on a blade of grass.

One of the Sandhills wandered over to a trickle of water flowing through the field to visit with a Mallard drake and a Killdeer.

The Killdeer gradually came closer to me but kept an eye on the duck and crane.

Then Drake and Killdeer started to go cross country….

Lynn came along and also managed to photograph this jump…

An hour later Dave came back into his driveway and the Sandhills played “follow the leader” in a stream take-off.

Lead is safely airborne as those in line astern leap into the air…

On the climb-out

Above the trees …

Up, up and away!

Later I visited Dave and Irene when this Ruby Throated Hummingbird posed for us.  After being quite nondescript it flexed its throat feathers to demonstrate the basis of colour in this bird.  This article on Structural Coloration is more detailed and does not make the common error of conflating refraction and diffraction.

If you scroll back up to the Brewers Blackbird you’ll see another example of structural coloration.

Audubon has an opinion of the effect of Keystone XL on Sandhills.

Ontario has some strange laws regarding the control of Sandhills in farmer’s fields.

I have been corresponding with a photographer who has some extraordinary words of wisdom here:  http://035c417.netsolhost.com/WordPress/category/a-photography-art-blog/page/3/

He can relate to Making Pictures (which pops up when you click on it in the title block of this blog).  Does it make sense to you?

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20170617 Yellow goatsbeard, pink ladyslipper, viper’s bugloss, cinnamon fern, tufted loosestrife, pitcher plant, dogbane, potentilla, cow parsnip, pollinators

An afternoon drive down Hwy 529 yielded some interesting scenery…

Yellow goatsbeard stayed open in spite of a light rainshower:

When you look closely (click on the photo) you can clearly see the anthers on this seed head of grass…

Patch of pink ladyslipper orchids, in a sphagnum bog just off of the rock dump north of Big Lake.

Viper’s bugloss being pollinated by a visiting bumblebee….

Cinnamon fern, named for its spore-bearing fertile fronds …

First (and only, so far) sighting of tufted loosestrife

The purple pitcher plant .6 km N of 529A is in mid-bloom.

Possibly a (ground?) crab spider of some sort waiting in ambush.  It didn’t move at all.

I am now reasonably certain that the Monarchs are laying eggs on the yet-to-bloom milkweeds …

Another copious source of nectar for a variety of pollinators, including many butterflies … Spreading Dogbane.

“Potentilla simplex, also known as common cinquefoil or old-field five-fingers or oldfield cinquefoil, is a perennial herb.

Pollinators include mason bees, small carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, halictid bees, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, blow flies, and others. Less common pollinators are wasps and butterflies.”

 

Nice camouflage!   (The ID is also “camouflaged” in my brain!)

I have seen several of these, some with all of the petals removed.

She loves me.

She loves me not.

She loves me.

Etc.   ??

Painted Ladies have more “eyes” than American Ladies:

Backlit Cow Parsnip looking towards the setting sun ….

While trying to ID the above spider I came across this link to very fine nature photography:

http://www.randysnaturephotography.com/index.html

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20170616 Dogwood, chestnut sided warbler, highbush cranberry, Canada anemone, blight, wild rose, painted lady, wood satyr, crab spider, salsify.

Dogwood, chestnut sided warbler, highbush cranberry, Canada anemone, blight, wild rose, painted lady, wood satyr, crab spider, salsify.

Some scenes along the Old Still River Road and Hwy 529 ..

The dogwoods are in full bloom now …

This Chestnut Sided Warbler views the photographer from its “hide”.

A nice display of the V. trilobum …

Canada anemone is in full bloom now …

Many of the Choke Cherries seem to be affected by a blight of some sort this year …

Up close:

This wild plum has a similar affliction …

All of the local serviceberries have some sort of disease also.  I have yet to see any serviceberry mature to edible fruit over the last 20 years in this area.   Too bad, as serviceberry (aka Saskatoon berry) pie is delicious. 

The Prickly Wild Roses are in mid-bloom now …

This Crab Spider seems to be transitioning to the yellow format (in anticipation for lying in wait on a Goldenrod?)

Little Wood Satyr, resting on a leaf under a grass arch …

Tragopogon dubius (yellow salsify, western salsify, western goat’s-beard, wild oysterplant, yellow goat’s beard, goat’s beard, goatsbeard, common salsify, salsify) in a delicate light:

Painted lady nectaring on a V. trilobum…

Native bee collecting pollen and nectar on the flowerhead of a Common Yarrow….

Beetle on Ox Eye Daisy.   I don’t know what it is doing there.

These two (Coppers??) were hidden in the wind-moving grass.  A pair of antennae at either end.

A wind gust later … Aha!   That’s how they do it!

 

And interesting reference for up-to-date environmental news:

http://naturecanada.ca/category/news/blog/

More stuff:  http://blog.feedspot.com/nature_blogs/

It is probably healthier to go outside for a walk or drive than to look at all of this computer stuff!!!

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20170615 Britt, Hwy 529 Painted lady, moths, skippers, brushfoots, coppers, cabbage butterfly, dragonflies

We spent some time looking into the grass along Hwy 529 and Riverside Drive to see butterflies, moths, bees & flies foraging, pollinating and, I think, laying eggs.

Just west of the Magnetawan FN Band Office we saw this interesting use of “citizen science”.    Good for McMaster, Royal Bank, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and the Magnetawan FN.

It appears that this year’s Pin Cherry crop will be affected by the cold wet weather during their pollination period about three weeks ago.

These Black Cherries are going to do a bit better, we hope.

Solomon’s Seal along Riverside Drive, near the Geophysical Marker….

Vanessa cardui have been flitting around and nectaring for about two weeks now.

Here are several moths that I have not yet identified:

Try:  http://www.backyardnature.net/n/a/moo/

 

 

 

Back to Butterflies:

This looks to be a Pieris rapae.   It didn’t move to a better location for a better ID photo so this is all we have.   I have seen them flittering on the wild mustard that is blooming now.  No photos though as it has been very windy when they’ve been feeding.  This one might be laying eggs.

The Monarchs have been around for a week or so, usually  feeding on Orange Hawkweeds.   The Common Milkweeds won’t be blooming for a week or so.  I suspect that this Monarch is in the milkweeds to lay eggs for the first generation of summer Monarchs.

This looks like a male Indian Skipper

Another Skipper.   But which one …..

Maybe a Harris Checkerspot?

And a ??? …

American Copper

Perhaps a beetle of some sort …

Hoverfly?

Two beautiful Dragonflies, helping to control mosquitoes and black flies!!   : )

 

Another bee, methinks …

A clump of Pussytoes ..

… releasing little fluffs containing very small seeds.   

20170614 Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle

 

Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle

At 20170613  there is a photo of Cow Parsnip with this advice:

Near the Twin Rivers Bridge, at the confluence of Harris Creek and Naiscoot River, there are many Cow Parsnip plants growing along the roadside.  Although they are somewhat phototoxic they are not as deadly as their look-alike close cousin, Giant Hogweed.

A nice little explanation showing the difference is at this link.   It makes sense to avoid both plants.

This photo shows a slightly later stage of development, as the sheath unfolds to show the flower head emerging to eventually form an umbel, the characteristic inflorescence of the carrot family.

Roadside Ox Eye Daisies are in full bloom now, attracting and feeding many pollinators … and enhancing the roadside.

 

When I first saw this bird I thought that it was a Red Winged Blackbird.   But NO RED.   And it certainly wasn’t a female.  Too small for a Common Grackle.  I eventually decided that it was a Brewer’s Blackbird, an uncommon sight for me.  Here is some interesting background on that bird in this neck of the woods.

Note size, yellow eyes and iridescence as this birdie takes a load of protein to its nest….

Painted Lady on a yellow hawkweed.   Good news for Albertans this year!

 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are also feasting on newly flowering yellow hawkweed.

  This was a surprise.  My first sighting of a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on orange hawkweed.  The flowers had just opened today.

Proboscis is starting to uncoil for arrival at the next feeding station.

First one of the season!  This year’s migration map indicates that they’ve been here for about a week.  This is a great site.

I had seen some Viceroy Butterflies earlier but couldn’t get a photo.  Here is a great exercise for telling the difference between Monarch, Viceroy and Queen Butterflies.

A large Blanding’s Turtle is checking the photog out from a safe distance.  It slipped into the water afterwards.

Here’s an interesting news report about new crops for BC agriculture.